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Celtics Back in Action Against Cavaliers

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(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
(Photo by Jim Rogash/Getty Images)
Getty Images

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

7:00pm

Location: Quicken Loans Arena

TV: Comcast SportsNet [] Radio: WEEI

Fresh off last night's impressive 88-80 opening night victory over the revamped Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics are set to take on the new-look (perhaps not by choice...) Cleveland Cavaliers in Cleveland at 7:00pm.

The Byron Scott led Cavaliers finished 6-2 during the preseason, despite some of their better players (Antawn Jamison, Mo Williams) missing time due to various injuries. J.J. Hickson was perhaps the brightest spot for Cleveland during the preseason, as the young power forward (buried on the bench at times by Mike Brown in previous years) averaged a noteworthy 14.25 points and 8.1 rebounds in 24.5 minutes per game.

The Celtics received a number of stellar performances against the Heat last night from the likes of Paul Pierce (19 points, 9 rebounds), Ray Allen (20 points, 5-8 from three-point nation), and Rajon Rondo (17 assists). Unfortunately, the starters (with the exception being Shaquille O'Neal) all had to play significant minutes to help get the job done. Pierce and Rondo each contributed 41 minutes, Ray checked in at 39, and Garnett at 35. Seeing as tonight is the second night of a back-to-back, don't be surprised to see the Celtics' bench earn some more floor time, especially if the Celtics are able to break this one open early.

Projected Starters

Celtics: Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Kevin Garnett, Shaquille O'Neal

Cavaliers: Ramon Sessions, Anthony Parker, Joey Graham, J.J. Hickson, Anderson Varejao

Injuries

For the Celtics, Paul Pierce (back) is listed as questionable, while Kendrick Perkins (knee), and Delonte West (suspension) are out.

For the Cavaliers, Daniel Gibson (neck) and Joey Graham (quad) are listed as probable, while Mo Williams (groin) is listed as questionable.

Update: Mo Williams will not play tonight, according to Sean Grande's Twitter. According to A. Sherrod Blakely, Paul Pierce will play.

Key Matchup

Kevin Garnett vs. J.J. Hickson - Garnett abused Antawn Jamison in the post during the playoffs last season, but the Cavaliers appear to be bringing Jamison off the bench, meaning he might not see too much floor time with Garnett (depending on how things shake out). With that said, Hickson is much quicker and more athletic than Jamison, so keep an eye out for how Garnett handles him defensively, and for whether or not Hickson is capable of handling the taller Garnett in single coverage.

Honorable Mention

Shaquille O'Neal vs. Anderson Varejao

Skinny

People have enjoyed scoffing at the Cavaliers ever since the departure of LeBron James, yet the Cavs still boast legitimate NBA talent in Williams, Jamison, Varejao, and Hickson (among others). In addition, Cleveland also sports a number of young, athletic players (Jamario Moon, Graham, Hickson, Varejao, Ramon Sessions), and Celtics teams with this core group of players have historically had trouble with such teams. While these Cavs might not be the Atlanta Hawks of 2008, they're looking to employ a run-and-gun style offense under Scott that the Celtics will have to be ready to combat. After last night's tough-it-out win, Boston could be sporting some tired legs. Things bode much better for the Celtics if they can slow the Cavaliers down and make them execute in the halfcourt, where their defense can take over.

Also, don't be shocked to see the starters play considerably fewer minutes compared to last night, particularly Garnett and Pierce. I fully expect Marquis Daniels, Nate Robinson, and Glen Davis to see extended time tonight.